The answer to this question will determine your career direction. If you are in an interview and asked this question, your answer will determine job fit and employment potential. If you are conducting the interview with a new employee candidate and they ask this question, the answer will determine the kind of team you develop and eventually your ability to achieve higher levels of success. The answers will vary widely, citing style, old adages, analogies and sayings, but the key is in deciding on one’s own style of leadership and what kind of leader one wants to be. Three such examples are explored in this Monday Moment and as you read or listen, start to make decisions on which one seems to be your best fit.
Thermometer or Thermostat
This analogy has a multitude of attributions, but most commonly compares leadership to being one or the other. Are you a thermostat or a thermometer? One might have to think about this, as I did, to remember the difference. A thermostat heats up or cools down an environment based on controlling the temperature. Are you a leader who controls and sets the mood, tone, and temperature of the group you lead? A thermometer merely records the current temperature and displays it for one to read and review and then make new decisions or take no action, while being well informed. Are you a leader who simply pays attention, sees things, records the activities of the team, and reports them to your leadership, waiting for direction on the next most appropriate action?
Monitor or Guard
If you’ve missed this commercial that explains the difference between monitoring and guarding, take a quick peak before you continue. Life Lock Commercial Did you catch the security guard saying, in the middle of a bank robbery, “oh I’m just a security monitor, not a guard. There’s a robbery.”? Leaders don’t just monitor issues, they find solutions. Leaders don’t just monitor problems, they fix them. What kind of leader are you, one who monitors or one who guards against more damage and finds solutions?
Authentic or Faking It
Many a coaching conversations recently have been centered on the value of authenticity. It is a word that is tossed around in many organizational environments, with reference to managers, leaders, and even the front line, but the challenge is this concept is not an easy one to attain if one has spent years faking it. Corporate and organizational cultures may dictate a certain behavior, different than one that is authentic for a leader. Enter the perceived need for faking it. A certain role may be believed to need certain behaviors different than those authentic to one’s nature. Enter the believed need to fake it. Which kind of leader are you? Do you spend time in the land of shoulds, believing that no matter how much spreadsheets drain your natural energy, you should keep producing them because that is what one should do in this role? Do you believe that as a leader or boss, you can’t possibly be a heartfelt, concerned, compassionate and personable individual? Not only is the zone a place in which one lives more often when being authentic, but the very act of actually acting in alignment with your most dominant natural behaviors is a powerful source of long term sustaining energy. Being a leader is not easy or usually accomplished in short work bursts. Why make it harder by spending much needed energy on trying to be someone else?
One could also answer the original question of “what kind of leader are you?” by saying servant, transformational, contagious, or any number of other pop culture and well defined literary constructs. However, the most powerful answer lies inside. What kind of leader are you? One who dives right in or one who stands on the side lines? One who gets things done or delegates well and develops others? One who is aware of your own style and preference and accepting of those of others? What kind of leader do you want to be, might well be the first, more important question. The answer to both will not only determine your career direction, but also predict your level of satisfaction with each choice and decision.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.